It seems Gregory Campbell of the DUP’s campaign for the rights of the Irish who are culturally British is needed more than ever following the news that just 10 people born in the Irish Republic but now living in Northern Ireland have managed (subs needed) to obtain naturalised British citizenship since 2004. Either that or it was never needed in the first place.According to the figures published in the Irish News, 628 people have applied for naturalisation in Northern Ireland since citizenship ceremonies were first introduced at the beginning of 2004, with 10 of them coming from the Irish Republic. The majority originate from India, followed by the Philippines and China.
The ceremonies are held in Hillsborough Castle and are conducted by a Lord Lieutenant. New citizens are obliged to swear an oath of loyalty to the Queen or alternatively, pledge to be a good citizen of the country.
Despite just 3 Irish people a year looking for British naturalisation Campbell is on record as saying he believes “there are thousands who want this” but are somehow held back by all the red tape. But does his claim, which he repeats on an almost annual basis without ever providing any evidence, stand up to scrutiny?
Let’s look at what you need to apply to become a naturalised British citizen:
– You must be aged 18 or over and are not of unsound mind.
– You must be of good character.
– You should be able to communicate in the English language (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic). There are exemptions to this requirement, for example if you are elderly or mentally handicapped.
– You should intend to live in the UK or in Crown Service abroad (working directly for an UK Government organisation), or be employed by an international organisation of which the UK is a member, or be employed by a company or association established in the United Kingdom
None of these seem to pose any great problem for your average southerner who has decided to make a life north of the border. So now let’s see what are the residence requirements:
– You must have been living in the UK exactly five years before the date the application reaches the Home Office; and
– During the five-year period you must not have been outside the United Kingdom for more than 450 days (about 15 months); and
– During the last 12 months of the five-year period you must not have been outside the UK for more than 90 days; and
– During the last 12 months of the five-year period your stay in the United Kingdom you must have held permanent residence/ indefinite leave to remain (ILR); and
– You must not have been living in the United Kingdom in breach of the UK immigration rules at any time during the five-year period ending with the date that the application is received by the Home Office.
Campbell seems to think this process is so convoluted that many Irish who are culturally British have given up.
But once again, there doesn’t appear to be anything in the requirements that would prevent those Irish who are culturally British “but just happen to have been born on the wrong side of the border,” as Campbell describes them, from succeeding.